Womens’s surf-wear brand Roxy is being accused of objectifying women athletes in its new ad. The ad titled “Roxy Pro Biarritz 2013 Official Teaser” on YouTube was uploaded in June, and is deemed as offensive to women for focusing on an unnamed surfer’s body, particularly her butt.
The ad is Roxy’s promotion for a women’s professional surfing contest in France for July 10 to 14. It features an unnamed female surfer, whose face isn’t shown on camera. It asks viewers to guess who owns the slender surfer’s body by using the hashtag #WhoAmIJustGuess.
What makes the ad controversial is the video’s focus on the woman’s half-naked body. The video captures the surfer’s toned bum, cleavage, legs, and back in excruciatingly slow motion as the surfer wakes up in her bed, goes to the shower, drives to the beach, and starts paddling into the water.
Another thing worth noting, aside from the ad’s long focus on the woman’s assets, is that the almost two-minute video stops short of showing the surfer actually surf.
The ad was met with a few praises and a lot of criticisms from viewers. Those who did not like it claim that the surfer was “objectified” because it concentrated on her body parts without identifying her or even showing off her surfing skills, which is what an ad for surfing competition should show.
Some even call it demeaning to women because it was made to look like a soft porn footage. Others note that if it wasn’t for Roxy’s logo at the end of the video, they would have thought it was an ad for a lingerie brand.
The Australian Sports Commission also thinks that the video is sexualising women.
“The ASC considers it has a responsibility to ensure the images of female athletes are positive and are not sexualised. We discourage promotional activities that lead to female athletes being exploited,” a spokesman for the ASC has been quoted by news.com.au as saying.
“There is nothing wrong with celebrating fit athletic bodies, I’m all for it, but this goes way beyond,” added Macquarie University Professor Catharine Lumby. “It is really just very voyeuristic.”
Ms Lumby, who has worked with the Australian Rugby League on gender issues and sexism and has advised the ASC on the “sexploitation” of women athletes, continued, “It looks more like a lingerie ad... It seems completely out of touch with modern Australia and little to do with the sport it is publicising.”
Roxy has issued a statement to defend their controversial ad.
“Obviously, there’s been much conversation around the video we recently released. We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water. You certainly don’t have o be sexy to be an athlete, & we also believe it’s not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be. We don’t judge one to be better than the other & we don’t believe in excluding one for the other,” the brand wrote on its Facebook page.
“Thank you for the passionate thoughts shared on the video, & for expressing how much you respect women in surfing. Oh yea, & for the parody, thanks for making us laugh.”
In case you are wondering, the parody Roxy mentioned is a video posted in reply of the ad, wherein a man wearing a blonde wig is shown in bed with a sex doll.
Here it is:
But for some of its followers, its explanation didn’t really explain anything.
“I am not bothered about sexy commercials, sex sells as do attractive bodies. She’s a pro surfer that is what their figure looks like. But I am bothered you ‘promote’ a world tour surfing event focusing entirely around a woman’s butt. Aimed at who?! Not women thats for sure. It shouldn’t be focused on a surfers body or sex at all, it should be about their talent and athleticism and power. Amazed ASP still let sponsors do this in 2013. It wouldn’t happen at Wimbledon. Totally uninspiring,” [all sic] a commenter named Wendy McGirr replied.
Another named Elena Be added, “Sexy commercials are fine. Sexy commercials about surfing are fine, too. But leaving out all of the surfing and replacing it with who’sbuttisthisjustguess –> not fine at all. Why are there no male surfers filmed that way for commercials? There might be even more girls watching the ASP Oh, yes, I forgot – because this is about surfing, not butt. We deserve better!”
As for the woman on the video, guesses include five-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons.